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How to pull old nails out of particle board « Well that was… an idea
20 Jun 2013

How to pull old nails out of particle board


I’m not going to think up a ‘clever’ title for this one – it’s purely instructional.

Particle board or plywood sheets are common as subflooring. Properly, they’d be nailed down every foot to 18 inches along each rafter or joist. That means a lot of nails:

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Here’s the fastest way I know to get a job like this done and done well – buy a cats paw:

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These are designed to easily get the tines around a nail or screw head and then maximize leverage to make pulling it out a breeze. They’re also made out of a solid piece of steel, so a couple of light taps with a hammer is all you need to set the tool:

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Then lean – lightly, even – on the other end and the nail should pull right out:

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But, you say rhetorically, can’t I do this with the tools I have on hand? I don’t want to buy a new tool for a simple project! Well, I reply, first of all you’re lying if you’re a do-it-yourselfer and say you don’t want to buy a new tool. Second, would it kill you to support your local hardware store? And third and most importantly, sure there’s an alternative – and it’s a pain in the neck. And the knuckles. And tears up the boards much more than necessary.

Sure you can always use a claw hammer or a small pry bar to pull the nail loose. It’s the getting the tool under the nail head that’s the difficulty. You need to free up space around the nail head since neither the claw hammer nor the pry bar will penetrate the surface neatly or at all. Start with a chisel:

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Then hammer the pry bar into the wood to snag the nail head. This is the point at which you’ll miss once or thrice and bust the knuckles on the hand that’s holding the bar in place.

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*Then* lever the nail up as far as you can with this tool, which won’t be much with a pry bar of this size. *Then* use a claw hammer to finish pulling the stubborn nail out of the &#*$@# board.

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Just buy a cats paw – I got the whole room done in about half an hour.

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